Rahul tears into Modi, hopes of a BSP-Congress truck
New Delhi : Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday tore into the Narendra Modi government for "waging war on Indians" and imposing a "suffocating ideology" on them. Exuding confidence of trucking with Mayawati-led BSP for the next Lok Sabha polls, he also expressed his willingness to become the Prime Minister.
Delivering the keynote address and participating in an interactive session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here, Gandhi indicted the Modi government for thousands of farmer suicides, "decimation" of the economy and "jamming shut" the country's banking system.
"It (Modi government) wants to impose one singular suffocating memory on our 1.3 billion people," said Gandhi in his scathing attack, adding that "rupee is on its knees, petrol at an all-time high, the stock market imploded, Rs 12 lakh crore in NPAs and unemployment is at a 20-year high".
Claiming that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) disliked thinkers like Raghuram Rajan and Amartya Sen, Gandhi dared Modi to open himself to criticism instead of trying to stifle it.
He said the Modi regime has a sense of "monopoly" over everything it deals with and does not believe in having any form of conversation.
Flaying the "ridiculous" demonetisation and holding the complex multi-layered GST responsible for wiping out millions of small businesses, Gandhi said his attempts at making conversation with the government have always been shunned.
Had these conversations not been "snubbed at" and taken place, the GST (Goods and Services Tax) could have been better implemented and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir might not have deteriorated, he said.
"The people in charge are convinced that they have a monopoly on knowledge, convinced that they are the only ones who understand. What is a country if it isn't a multitude of opinions?" he said.
"There needs to be a conversation that provides the vision going forward. And that is exactly what is missing," he said and recounted his meeting with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
"I started a conversation on Kashmir, this was before the violence started. I said 'we have a serious problem coming up in the Valley' and his answer was 'No, there isn't'.
"It was pretty clear that politics which was taking place, the alliance between the PDP and BJP was going to set the field on fire. But no one was ready to listen, and the damage since has been tremendous," he said.
Talking about Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati ruling out any alliance with the Congress for the upcoming Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls, Gandhi opined that it won't affect his party's fortunes in the two states and exuded confidence of stitching up a tie with the BSP for 2019.
"Alliance in the states and alliance at the Centre are two different things and Mayawati has sort of indicated that. In the national elections, the parties (BSP, Congress) will come together. That is the indication we have," he said
Gandhi also said that the Congress will win "lots" of seats in the 2019 Lok sabha polls and expressed his willingness to be the Prime Minister.
"If they (allies) want me, I will surely want to be the Prime Minister," replied Gandhi when asked about his remarks in the run-up to the Karnataka Assembly elections when he had expressed his willingness to be the Prime Minister.
Continuing his attack on the Modi government he said that in sharp contrast to the Aadhaar under the UPA, the unique identification scheme under the BJP regime has been turned into a "surveillance" tool.
He said the sole qualification of choosing Vice Chancellors to lead the country's top universities was that they subscribe to the RSS ideology. He also claimed that over a lakh of schools run by the RSS across the country were funded by the government with contribution coming from MPLADS funds.
India today is "burning", Gandhi said, while the government was only talking about its slogans like -- Make in India and Clean India, which he said have translated into zilch.
Gandhi also wondered why his visits to religious places "infuriated" the BJP.
"My temple visits have nothing to do with Hindutva. I can't understand why I can't go to a temple or a church or a gurudwara. BJP thinks only they can go to temples.
"They have a sense of monopoly in everything they deal with, monopoly on all institutions, on who goes to temples -- that is their nature," added Gandhi.
He also recited lines from Rabindranath Tagore's "Where the mind is without fear", and called upon people to reimagine the India where all Indians were free and not discriminated against.